Patients who are not suffering from life-threatening illnesses are to be turned away from A&E in Portsmouth as a heatwave in the UK puts extreme pressure on hospitals.

Staffing pressures, combined with the added strain of the current heat wave, have forced Portsmouth Hospitals University Foundation Trust to declare a critical incident.

The trust said the emergency department only has space for patients with life-threatening illnesses and critical conditions and will therefore be forced to divert other patients elsewhere.

It comes as the South Central Ambulance Service Trust also announced a critical incident in response to pressures on its services.

Portsmouth University Hospitals said in a statement to the FT: “Our Emergency Department (ED) remains full with patients and we have very limited space to treat emergency patients. We can only treat patients with life-threatening conditions and injuries, so all patients who arrive at the emergency department without life-threatening conditions or injuries will be referred to alternative services that can help…

“Our immediate priority is to ensure that beds are available for our most critically ill patients and we are focused on safely discharging as many patients as possible. We ask that families and loved ones support us in this and pick up patients as soon as they are ready to be discharged.”

The statement added that additional water and ice cream would be provided to staff and patients, and ventilation in the wards would be checked.

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